Galatians Sermon Series Underway

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Featured

If the book of Galatians had been composed as an email, it would have been written in all caps.  It has that in your face feel about it.  Paul begins the letter with little of his customary thanksgiving for how well the church is doing; instead he offers a brief prayer of “grace and peace” and then switches to how “astonished” he is that the church is turning to a different gospel, which isn’t any gospel at all.

Nobody likes to receive a flaming email; it’s usually more of an indictment on the bad temper of the sender than any wrongdoing on the part of the recipient.  But in this case, Paul is justified to go on the attack.  The gospel that Paul preached is designed, as he puts it “to rescue us,” to save us from the evil of sin and to bring us into the eternal kingdom of God.  To abandon that gospel is to stay in the realm of sin and death.   Paul’s frustration with the church then is rooted in his love for them.

Outsiders have imported a variant on Paul’s gospel.  It came from men who thought that the Gentiles needed to become Jews in order to participate in God’s plan of salvation.  The thinking was logical:  the Old Testament required circumcision for all Israelites to show they belonged to God’s people.  Therefore, in the New Testament, if Gentiles (non-Israelites) wanted to become part of God’s people in Christ, they should also be circumcised and become Jews.  Those who imported this error are commonly called Judaizers.

The deep oversight of the Judaizers is that they fail to recognize the importance of Jesus Christ.  In one of the more well-known passages in Galatians, Paul writes that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek….”  In other words, one doesn’t become a Christian in stages—first by becoming a Jew, then by becoming a Christian.  No, through Christ, we are all on the same playing field with respect to salvation.  To deny this is to minimize the achievement of Christ through his cross and resurrection.  It’s worth getting upset about.